A couple of day hikers approached. "There's water in a wash up ahead," they reported, "but it looks kind of nasty." We were burdened with three and a half liters, but we decided to make the wash our destination for lunch. Once we arrived, I saw they were right; there were pools of water in the wash, pools that wouldn't last for long. There was a skim of algae but otherwise the water seemed clear and cold. "I'd drink this," I said. "Me too," TC agreed. It was true, backpackers have different standards.
We had numerous reports that the rainwater collector was full, so we approached the building with confidence. This collector was placed here to assist Arizona Trail users in a long, dry stretch. If not for it, we would have faced a 22 mile carry: doable, but not pleasant.
The next day we began the long descent to the Gila River. Slow and rocky, it still afforded us the best scenery yet. Arriving at the river, we were distinctly underwhelmed. There were jeep paths crossing it, and the smell of cows. It didn't seem like a place we wanted to linger long. So we marched onward through a darkening sky, arriving at a calm wash minutes before sunset. Another 20 mile day in the books.
Because we had gone farther than we planned each day (shocker!) we arrived at the car early the next morning. What to do now? We debated hiking south into Passage 15, but we decided we wanted new scenery, and the water situation looked grim. Piling in the car we drove north to the northern end of Passage 21.
This passage was different all right. Juniper trees! Flowing creeks! We encountered Hawkeye, who looked at us in bewilderment; after all, the last time we had seen him we were down in 18 going south. After hiking about six miles we decided to stop by the creek. I shoved my tent into a small space, feeling smug. I'd get to sleep by the river! This was going to be great!
Until it wasn't. The wind picked up with a ferocity that threatened to break my tent poles. I collapsed the tent and lay sleepless under it, waiting for daybreak.
This was the end of our AZT adventure. As I hiked out, I pondered my life choices. There are some other sections that look amazing, and I might be back.
|The perfect tent spot...NOT.|